Right now I am sitting in the Dubai airport and already feeling far from home. Not only are there signs written in Arabic and glass-walled elevators opening up onto massive water fountains, an unfamiliar luxury compared to the airports in the US—I also find it hard to orient myself in time here. I had breakfast on the plane at—11 am US time? 7 pm Dubai time? 8:30 pm Ahmedabad time? These are all just estimates, as I’ve given up trying to figure out what time it is until we arrive at our destination. So right now I’m in this state of limbo, in every sense of the word. I have no idea what time it is, what day it is, what day it feels like. And I am on the edge of an experience of which I have no idea what to expect. I have this vague idea that I am about to be changed. But changed how? Changed by what?
Right now I am wedged between my own self-interest and disgust with this self-interest. Between stress about college and stress about grades and stress about nameless things and stress about not having enough time for stress, a certain tightness has settled at the bottom of my sternum. This point on my body and the feeling that lives there—this is where I have existed for the past few months. I find myself more and more preoccupied with it, and I hate it. I feel like I cannot take in the world around me when I’m trying so hard to untangle the reasons behind the constant tension inside me.
Heading to India, I am leaving behind a variety of things: my friends, family, my summer vacation. I certainly hope that I am leaving behind my preoccupation with myself. I suppose I am clinging to the idea that it takes traveling halfway around the world, being shocked by both the poverty and the intense love I’ve been told I’m about to experience, to leave all the knots inside me behind. And now as I sit beneath the arcing wooden beams and gleaming fluorescence of this airport, this in-between place, I feel content to exist outside of time for a while, without knots or obligations, ready to look outside myself at somewhere new.